Dear Coleen: My daughter would be better off without me

Dear Coleen:

I’m an awful mum to my daughter and think she’d be happier without me.

I was only 19 when she was conceived and had an older, much better-looking boyfriend who was only interested in sex.

I deliberately came off the Pill and hoped that having a baby would make him love me. Of course it didn’t, and he was only interested in the baby.

He cheated on me regularly and finally left me for another woman when our daughter was three.

She’s now six and I struggle to do anything with her. I can’t cook, so I give her ready meals and McDonald’s burgers.

She’s now overweight and being bullied in school. I don’t know how to talk and play with her, so I bought her a phone that she never puts down. People now call her rude because she ignores them in favour of the phone.

I realised how terrible I am when her father came to pick her up one weekend with his fiancée and, seething with jealousy, I told him he couldn’t see her any more.

Court summons are piling up, messages from him and his family fill up my inbox daily, and my own friends and family tell me that I’m hurting my own daughter.

I understand that, and I know she’s upset, but I can’t think of any other way to hurt him like he’s hurt me.

I’m tempted to just hand my daughter over to a relative and leave her for good.

Do you think that’s for the best?

Coleen says:

No, I don’t. The best thing to do is get a grip and get over your ex because this is all to do with being hurt by him.

Now you’re using your daughter as a weapon, and that’s not working either. It won’t bring him back. Your friends and family are right – the only person you’re hurting with this tactic is your daughter and none of this is her fault. You took a gamble coming off the Pill – put that down to immaturity and deal with the situation you’re in now.

It’s positive that your ex wants to be a big part of your daughter’s life and once you let the thoughts of revenge go and just let him be a father, it’ll give you the opportunity to start taking control.

If he has your daughter some of the time, use it to get your house in order. You’ll have more time to learn how to cook a few recipes and plan things to do with your daughter, like a swim or a trip to the park or a movie at the weekend.

You’ll have time for yourself, too, so you’ll have more chance of meeting someone. But stop sitting there wasting energy on hating him – it’s preventing you from moving on and having a good life with your daughter.

I can hear your anger, frustration and heartbreak through your letter. Tell yourself, once and for all, that you’re never going to be with him.

I don’t think you’re a bad mum – I think you’re being selfish and you’re in a rut. But you could be a great mum. You think it’s easier to chuck a mobile phone and fast food at her. Maybe in that moment it’s easier because it’s giving you a few hours to wallow, but long-term you’re storing up problems.

Trust me, there are many women who’ve been left on their own with kids whose dads don’t want anything to do with them.

You don’t have to be in that situation. And get support from friends and family, too. Let them help with your daughter. Good luck.

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